Help Solve My Mystery! (#52 Weeks)

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”

This week’s focus is a “brick wall”…. Perhaps someone in cyberspace knows of a source that could solve my mystery!

My 3rd great grand uncle, Brian Hall, was born to Brian Hall and Polly Lane in Norton, Massachusetts on 24 May 1797. He was one of eight children who lived to adulthood.  Siblings included Polly, Isaac, Sophia, Marcia, Milton, Horatio and Ephraim Lane.

Around 1821, the family relocated to Rhode Island.

In 1830 & 1832, Brian a junior laborer, was living on Hope Street, in Providence, with his parents1.

Between 1832 and 1835, Brian married Henrietta Hutchins of Providence, daughter of Richard Hutchins and Henrietta Woodward. She is mentioned as his wife, giving up rights of dower in numerous land transactions between Brian and his brothers on a piece of land called India Point in Seekonk, which today is part of Providence, RI2.

485654da-b87d-48c9-b4f2-fbda1ba89079India Point about 1840,

They had one known child in February 1835, who died at the age of two weeks. Henrietta died 11 March 1838 at the age of 433.

About a year later, on 23 March 1839, a marriage intention was filed in Seekonk between Brian Hall and Lucy Mason4. Five days later, Brian died on 28 March 1839 at age 425.  No marriage record has been found.

marriage intention Brian and Lucy

Brian, a Yeoman, died intestate, his assets which were valued at $1,369.45 ($345.73 after debts were paid), included one hundred acres of land (he was holding the mortgage), buildings, furnishings, farm animals and equipment and a half a pew in the Baptist Meeting House. Seven siblings are mentioned in the probate documents, each receiving $49.39; Lucy is not named.

The land is described as follows: “…the real estate of said deceased consists of two parcels of land which are under separated mortgages the first of which contains seventy acres more or less is bounded Northerly by a road and Westerly by land of Jm (?) Mason & land which the said deceased purchased of William Hill – the second of which contains thirty acres more or less and is bounded Northerly by a road easterly by the first above mentioned lot, Southerly by the land of Jm (?) Mason and Westerly by land of Josiah Kent and Thomas L. Peck…” [In 1840, Josiah Kent, Thomas Peck and James Mason are enumerated within a few names of one another in Seekonk, Bristol, Massachusetts].

Brian Hall deeds Bristol

Grantee Index (Brian is the buyer)

Brian Hall grantor

Grantor Index (Brian is the seller)

Brian Hall cancel

April 15, 1840, James Smith cancels the mortgage given to him by Brian Hall.

Brian’s brother, my 3rd g-grandfather, Horatio Hall, later named two of his daughter’s Lucy Mason Hall:

 Lucy Mason Hall [#1], born 2 February 1840, daughter of Horatio and Elizabeth, died of dropsy at age 5 on 4 November 1844 in Malden, Massachusetts6.

A portion of the obituary of the Lucy #2 reads: “Miss Lucy Mason Hall of 29 Richardson Street died at her home Saturday noon of heart failure after an illness of less than half an hour.  Miss Hall was at work in the kitchen when first taken ill and had suffered heart attacks before. She was born in this city and was the daughter of Horatio and Elizabeth Pindar Hall7.

Brian’s Lucy Mason went on to marry Abel Cooper in 18428and lived in Rhode Island until her death on 7 Jan 18839. Abel died in 1857 of Typhoid Fever; for a time Lucy resided with her sister Martha Mason and became a Tailoress10. By 1880 she resided in a home with her brother-in-law William Cooper and was reported to have consumption (likely pulmonary tuberculosis)11.

So many questions, but what I really want to know:

– How did Brian die?  Was it a tragic/sudden death or was he sick? If he was ill, did he expect to recover or did he file the marriage intention knowing his days were numbered?

– Why did Horatio name his daughter(s) Lucy Mason Hall? Were they close? Did Lucy stay in touch with the Hall family after Brian’s death?

I thought maybe Lucy was pregnant and Horatio raised the child as his own, but the dates don’t work; Lucy Mason #1’s birth was recorded ten months after Brian’s death.

(1) U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. Providence, Rhode Island, City Directory, 1830, pg 76
(2) History of Providence County, Rhode Island , Edited by Richard M. Bayles. In two volumes, illustrated. Vol. I. New York:  W. W. Preston & Co., 1891.
(3) North Burial Ground, Providence, Rhode Island, Plot: section BB. Note: infant age 2 weeks Henrietta Hall in 43rd year; recorded by Frank Williamson c.1860 but not found by F.T. Calef in 1923 or John E. Sterling in 1994; info from Sterling’s book North Burial Ground, Providence, RI, Old Section 1700-1848.
(4) Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, by James N. Arnold, Vol 1, pg 202.
(5)  “Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Index”, entry for Brian Hall 1988c – 28 Mar 1839; Transcriptions by volunteers of Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project; index compiled by John Sterling, digital image, New England Historic Genealogical Society (  :  accessed 26 July 2009)
(6) Malden, Massachusetts, Births ,marriages and deaths in the town of Malden, Massachusetts (Printed at the University press for the city of Malden, 1903), 349.
(7) Malden Evening News, 6 May 1907, p. 4, col. 5, Hall Family Papers, privately held by Linda Hall-Little, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,],  2010.
(8) MASON Lucy and Abel Cooper both of Seekonk, Vital Record of Rhode Island, 1636-1850, by James N. Arnold
(9) Rhode Island, Deaths, 1630-1930 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2000.
(10) Rhode Island, State Censuses, 1865-1935 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013. Original data: Rhode Island State Census, 1865. Microfilm. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
(11) Source Citation: Year: 1880; Census Place: Seekonk, Bristol, Massachusetts; Roll: 523; Family History Film: 1254523; Page: 199A; Enumeration District: 072; Image: 0179.


2 responses to this post.

  1. […] – “Help Solve My Mystery!” (Brian Hall) by Linda on Passage to the Past’s […]



  2. […] Partial transcription of Brian’s probate records can be found here, all of his siblings are named as heirs.  Additional details of his life were documented in another blog post here. […]



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